A snapshot guide to get you up and running because there is so much to see and do over the festive period in Budapest.
Exploring on foot is a great pleasure: And even as the chill of winter descends upon Budapest, the city remains ideal for pottering about. As you can experience many of the major sights in just a few days, whilst feeling fully immersed, due to the city’s captivating Gothic revival and neoclassical charm in which bursts from the banks of the Danube. With Buda on the west side of the Danube and Pest on the east, the Hungarian capital comes to life around Christmas with warming historic grand cafés, ornate baths and festive markets.
Spend frost bitten mornings, drawing your scarf in closer and navigating the city. Take your pick from memorable spots, such as The Hungarian Parliament, Buda Castle, Fisherman Bastion and for stunning city views the Citadella on the Buda side of the city. Enjoy zigzagging across the lattice-like bridges, before warming up in one of the many ornate Cafe’s; with Ruszwurm (the oldest cafe in Budapest) in the castle district being a favourable option.
Slip into a fairy tale afternoon and go ice skating in Varosliget park. Set against Vajdahunyad Castle, the lake transforms in winter, becoming a spot to truly live out the city’s romantic side. Book your tickets in advance to ensure you don’t miss out. Now you have just about lost the feeling in your toes, cosy up at one of the Christmas markets. Either heading to the Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square, lavish in traditional Hungarian food or opt for a glass of Palinka spiked mulled wine set against the grandeur of St Stephens Basilica for instant festive cheer.
Having trailed the city on both foot and skates in search of monuments, vistas, Goulash and kürtőskalács. You would be wise to spend an evening at Szechenyi Baths. Built in 1913, indulge in the neo-baroque style, crowned with mosaics and sink into medicinal waters, followed by endless rooms of various pools, showers and saunas. For those partial to a party stay for new years eve, where the baths collide with the modern, as a late night spa party commences. Alternatively enjoy a tipple at one of the many ruin bars, in Budapest’s old District VII neighbourhood (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings. This neighbourhood was left to decay after World War II, so it was a perfect place to house an underground bar scene, and a great way to end a wintery trip to Budapest.